Every once in a while its nice to spice up the normal routine and throw some Salsa into the mix!

Whether you are single and looking for a fun and flirty uptempo social dance or turning up the heat on a long time partnership, Salsa will be your summer fling.

It’s rare for lindy hopper and Balboa enthusiast to express such a passion for our latin jazzy cousin, but Salsa takes the familiar Afro-Cuban beat and transforms it into various new accentuation’s and challenging patterns.

And just as swing has many regional differences, so too does the social Salsa dance floor exhibit a wide variety of styles.  Each style synthesizes the musical and cultural influences unique to its part of Latin or North American.

So if you already are a Salsa dancer, why not brush up on some of the variations that set these styles apart to learn something new.  Or if you’re just catching the latin dance bug, use these resources to find a style that inspires you!

4 Popular Salsa Styles You Might See at the Clubs

Cuban “Casino” Style
Cuban style salsa is considered to be most like the original form of salsa rooted in Cuban Son and Rumba.  This style is distinctive for is Afro-Cuban body isolation’s and hip movements which plays down the need for intricate footwork.  Generally, Cuban style dancers break on 1 as partners travel around each other, keeping footwork simple and arms relaxed for showy arm movements.  This styles development has been isolated from North American and Puerto Rican popular music and culture since the Cuban Embargo, however, migrants brought their style, basic and rueda* group dances from Cuba to Miami.


Cali / Colombian Style
“Cali” style salsa hails from the city of Cali in Colombia.  It is quite different since it is heavily influenced by Colombian Cumbia and Boogaloo rhythms.  While Cali style dancers break on 1 like most salsa dancers, you can easily see their footwork is not like other salsa styles.  Rather than use the forward-backward motion of the Mambo break, Cali style salsa dancers break out on a diagonal.  They do not use cross-body leads as most salsa styles and execute intricate footwork while their upper body is relaxed and still.


LA Style
LA style salsa is one of the more “showy” styles of salsa where dancers use lots of dips, flips, drops, and tricks to wow onlookers.  This simple back and forth basic with the lead breaking forwards on 1, is heavily influenced by Mambo, Swing, Argentine Tango and Latin Ballroom dance styles where there is a strong emphasis on theatrics, aerobics and sensuality.  In synthesizing a large variety of dances and musical tastes, LA style salsa incorporates speedy footwork, jazzy moves, shines** and ballroom lifts.

NY Style
NY nightclub salsa dancing, also referred to as “Mambo” style salsa, is a flashy fusion style like LA style.  Unlike LA style, NY style has a rocking break step on 2 instead of 1.  This style is also heavily influence by the mid-to-up-tempo swinging latin jazz of Celia Cruz and Tito Puente.  It’s movements are smooth, controlled and highly technical with a deliberate elegance and grace.  Cross body leads, complicated footwork, shines and Afro-Cuban body movements are a must.

*Rueda meaning wheel, is a group social dance where a “caller” signals or calls out moves for every couple in the circle to execute simultaneously.  Moves often involve swapping or switching partners in various patterns.

**Shines refers to solos where each partner has an opportunity to freestyle on their own or showcase complicated footwork side-by-side.  Shines are common in New York,  LA and Puerto Rican styles of salsa, and less common in Cuban, Miami and Cali styles.

Every style has its attraction and inspires us to try out new basics or flashy moves.  So move those hips, shimmy those shoulders and get ready to spice up the floor at…Salsa Atomica

Come down to Atomic Ballroom in Irvine for the Wednesday Salsa nights. Don’t be surprised when you find those around you are not only dancing many different styles of Salsa, but other latin dances like Bachata, Cumbia, and Merengue too! Ranging from beginners to advanced dancers, this is always a great night to show off your new Salsa moves!  Come early and take a class or just so up for the social dancing!

See the full calendar for class times and schedules here.

Check out some of our current Salsa Class Instructors:

Pepe Gonzales
Espie Hernandez
Corey Eliand